The International Labor Organization (ILO) has observed that unemployment rates of young people have risen to a record number of 81 million worldwide, thus creating the possibility of appearance of a new lost generation. The danger of a lost generation should be taken very seriously in Estonia since within the European Union the rate is higher only in Spain.
It is true that the situation has slightly improved within the last year. Statistics Estonia notes that unemployment of young men has decreased to 40.8 per cent (was 46.8 in the first quarter) and youth unemployment has decreased to 39 per cent. But at the same time unemployment of young women has increased from last quarter's 31.9 to 36.8 per cent currently.
Why so many unemployed young people?
The first cause to youth unemployment is the economic recession. At the time of financial growth and prosperity many young people quit school and went to work. The first layoffs now during recession are those young people who have not completed their education. Secondly, youth that has lived at the expense of their parents have now registered for unemployment benefits because their parents can no longer support them. Thirdly, more young people graduate from school now that were born during the euphoric times of Estonia's re-independence 20 years ago. Fourthly, the children of second-generation immigrants, Russian, Belo-Russian and Ukrainian young people have more difficulties to find jobs in Estonia. Not being able to speak Estonian they cannot for example work in service. And they cannot speak Estonian because in Estonia the children of immigrants attend separate Russian-language schools.
What has been done
Youth unemployment rates are high, but we cannot say that nothing has been done to decrease it.
- Estonian Unemployment Office has created special work clubs for young people where they learn to write CV-s, practice job-interviews, find job-related information in the Internet. The work clubs are funded with approximately 30 000 EUR from the European Union Structural Funds.
- If the unemployed young person has graduated from a professional school but has acquired no work experience the unemployment office directs them to enterprises for internships.
- Since 2010 unemployed youth can attend free courses at vocational schools and adult education programs. This was previously free of charge only for working young people and raised a lot of criticism.
- Young people with previously interrupted education are invited back to universities and vocational schools to complete their studies free of charge.
- The European Social Fund supports education and training of more youth workers. Youth workers help young people enter and be successful at the job market.
More unrealized ideas are in the air
The Estonian media does not agree that enough has been done to avoid the appearance of a new "lost generation" in Estonia. For instance the young politician (Social Democrat) Gerd Tarand makes the following proposals on the Internet news portal Delfi to improve the situation: Creating a separate department for young people at the Estonian Unemployment Office. Creating a more flexible social support system for young people. Making it easier for young people to get start-up funds to set up new enterprises. Benefits for companies that accept youth interns. Special support for NGO-s that employ young people. Restructuring the universities so that students would not need to work during their studies, which would vacate more than 10 000 jobs. Entrepreneurs should pay lower social tax on young employees with lower salaries. The state should cover the costs for companies that create jobs for young people. Ongoing youth counseling on the Internet. (www.DELFI.ee 28. august 2010 04:00)